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ESTonishing Kentie wins marketing award as Enterprise Estonia design flops

Peter Kentie presenting his brand concept for Estonia at the 2017 Dutch National Citymarketing Trophy.
Peter Kentie presenting his brand concept for Estonia at the 2017 Dutch National Citymarketing Trophy. Source: (Peter Kentie)

On the same day daily Postimees demonstrated how Enterprise Estonia's design for the national brand is failing in the private sector, Peter Kentie's Eindhoven365 won the Dutch Citymarketing Trophy in its category—for the third time in four years.

Peter Kentie, director of the city of Eindhoven's branding agency Eindhoven365, is behind the so-called ESTonishing brand concept for Estonia, rejected by state economic development fund Enterprise Estonia in favor of its own design efforts.

Eindhoven365 won the Netherlands' National Citymarketing Trophy on June 12 in the category of cities with more than 120,000 residents. The reason for the jury's choice is the “broad and ambitious approach that links the city with regional cooperation, as well as the exchange of knowledge and information”.

Kentie's efforts to create a national brand for Estonia as well as its popularity and the endorsements it gained, from then-prime minister Taavi Rõivas (Reform) among others, had played into the decision, the jury noted.

Though Kentie's concept was not picked up by Enterprise Estonia, which instead decided to go for a design-only solution by a team of its own, it quickly gained the support of the broader population in Estonia, and also that of local businesses.

Enterprise Estonia's brand used by public funds and industry associations...

The design of the so-called Estonian Design Team assembled by Enterprise Estonia has had a considerably harder time finding support than Kentie's suggestion. While Kentie's concept consisted of a message-based collection of mock-ups based on playing with words containing est, Enterprise Estonia's design focused on a proposed visual language instead of a message.

As daily Postimees wrote on Monday, Enterprise Estonia's concept still has to prove its worth in the private sector. Six months in, there are only very few companies and institutions that have adopted it.

Postimees asked Enterprise Estonia how far they had been able to use the new brand themselves, and how far the brand had made it with businesses.

Enterprise Estonia has adopted the design for its own various efforts, most recently and very prominently the website of the e-Residency. According to marketing director Piret Reinson, the design is used most actively by their tourism development center, as they run the most campaigns.

Other adopters include the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which is using it to advertise Estonia's bid for a non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council. The design is also used to advertise Estonian food products, and to that end used by the Ministry of Rural Affairs as well as the Estonian Food Industry Association.

The Pakri Science and Industrial Park project has used the brand for materials about its bid for a potential Tesla megafactory in Estonia. The Chamber of Commerce and Industry is using it for all its materials, and several state funds have adopted it as well.

The Estonian national frisbee team is also a user, as the paper reported.

While different state organizations and unions have adopted the new design, the picture is very different in private business—the place where the brand really needs to gain a foothold if it is to contribute to Estonia's image in the world on a large scale.

... but not so much by businesses

Based on an overview Postimees received from Enterprise Estonia, 103 companies adopted the design in the first quarter of the year, and some 24 in the second.

As several prominent locations like e.g. Tallinn Airport still sport the old “Welcome to Estonia” logo, Postimees dug deeper—and found that things weren't quite as they had been made to appear in the overview.

The paper then picked three instances where Enterprise Estonia said the brand had been adopted: Silberauto, a local chain of car dealerships (including makes like Mercedes-Benz, Jeep, and Maserati), the Kumari travel agency, and the Estonian embassy in Paris.

Silberauto is also Enterprise Estonia's partner, providing its fleet of cars. According to Reinson, Silberauto wanted to use the brand design on the cars, but nothing happened, as they were waiting for suggestions from the car dealer.

Though Jana Ribelis, in charge of Silberauto's marketing, said something else: That they would like to continue, but that they are still waiting for Enterprise Estonia.

Meanwhile the company is using its own logo in its branding efforts.

In the case of the travel agency, Reinson told Postimees that the company had approached them because they were interested to develop a message to advertise nature tourism. There hadn't even been a plan to use the design right away, the matter had never gone beyond the proposal stage.

The embassy in Paris, on the other hand, ordered two roll-ups with the new design, which it uses to introduce Estonia at various events.

According to Postimees, later conversations with Enterprise Estonia brought out that the fund hadn't been aware exactly what was part of the overview sent to the paper. Compiling such an overview was time-consuming, as someone had to go through all of the fund's brand-related correspondence, its marketing department told Postimees.

But six months in, the response to Enterprise Estonia's own efforts is nothing like the popularity Kentie's proposal gained when it reached the broader public a year ago. And while Kentie's concept, picked up by businesses in a variety of industries, came at no cost at all, Enterprise Estonia's design took an investment in excess of €280,000 to prepare.

Editor: Dario Cavegn

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